According to the California Highway Patrol, officers issued more than 31,000 citations to drivers going faster than 100 mph during 2022 and the first seven months of 2023. Certainly, not all of those were street racers but inevitably a significant fraction were. While street racing can sometimes provide racers with adrenaline thrills, too often it ends with one or more people injured or dead. If you have been hurt -- or you've lost a loved one -- due to injuries suffered because someone else was racing, you should reach out to a knowledgeable Santa Barbara auto accident lawyer to find out what legal options exist for you.
A tragic incident from Northern California illustrates how destructive street racing can be. A San Mateo County family was returning home in late December when they encountered two young drivers racing down El Camino Real. Although the street had a posted limit of 35, the racers were going 75-80 mph when one of their vehicles hit the family in an intersection. The two 8-year-old twin daughters suffered only minor injuries but both parents suffered fatal injuries.
In the wake of the crash, the twins' paternal uncle filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the two girls. The lawsuit named the two drivers, the parents of one, and two passengers inside the racing vehicles.
The lawsuit asserted a claim against the parents based on a cause of action for "negligent entrustment." California law says that negligent entrustment happens when a vehicle owner negligently allows a person to use the vehicle even though the owner knew that person was unfit to drive the vehicle. In this case, the uncle's complaint alleged that the parents knew about their son's "proclivity for reckless driving," but they nevertheless allowed him to do so and even paid for the car parts necessary to modify his vehicle into a better street racing machine.
Insurance Claims Following a Street Racing Accident
If you're injured as a result of someone else's street racing, you may also have the option to pursue one or more insurance claims. If the driver who caused the crash was behind the wheel of a car they didn't own, there might be options for seeking compensation against the driver's auto insurer or the owner's insurance company.
Obtaining compensation from your own insurer may also be a possibility. Many drivers carry uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, which pays if the at-fault driver was uninsured or if the amount of your damages exceeded the policy limits of the responsible driver's policy. (Here in California, the law requires drivers to carry, at a minimum, insurance coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.)
Many policies may provide UM/UIM coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. So if, for example, you were hurt and suffered a total of $75,000 in damages and the at-fault driver carried only state-minimum coverage, you might be entitled to $15,000 from the other driver's insurer and $60,000 from your own insurer.
When dealing with an insurance company, you should know that their first settlement offer is often not their best. With effective legal counsel on your side, you can enhance your chances of obtaining a settlement offer that's genuinely fair.
In the wake of a fatal street racing crash, you may find yourself pursuing a civil case for the wrongful death of a loved one or dealing with insurance companies related to your injuries... or both. When facing this monumentally stressful event, count on the compassionate and competent Santa Barbara wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP to be the powerful legal representative you need in navigating all of the processes and obtaining the compensation you deserve. Contact us at 805-617-1365 or through our website to get a free case consultation today.